Roughly 11 years ago, the Oktibbeha County, Miss., Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) was seeing criminals fall through the cracks because its records management database couldn’t match names with aliases and other information. The department shopped around for a system that could match aliaases to pinpoint a person of interest—a boon to investigations.
Powerful Search Capabilities
Brett Watson, Commander of the Investigations/Narcotics Unit for OCSD, says the alias feature in the department’s Crimestar RMS solution is especially helpful with cases involving unknown individuals who may be dealing in street-level narcotics.
“If we’re able to get a nickname,” Watson says, “we can go into Crimestar and start matching photographs and names.”
The software’s Master Name Index not only enables users to capture basic identifying information about a subject, but also permits you to track a subject’s address and telephone number history and any alias names that the subject has been known to use. The Master Name Index applies a Known Offender concept in which specific traits and characteristics about a subject can be maintained. Multiple photos of the subject can be stored and referenced by date. Because databases are local, as opposed to national, the level of detail is rich.
“If we didn’t have this capability, I’m convinced that there are crimes that would have gone unpunished,” says Watson. “It’s allowed us to target individuals, target different areas in the county where we needed to provide more enforcement or patrol through our narcotics operations, and target times when crimes were being committed so we could get our men into the field and go to work during those times.”
For example, Watson cites a recent homicide case. A woman was found dead on the side of a county road. Once the investigation began, the only information sheriff’s deputies could glean was that the victim was last seen with a man using a particular nickname. The nickname was a common one used by two or three people in the area.
“Several of those individuals had been arrested at some point, and had booking photos,” says Watson. “This allowed the person who was with the victim to pick out the person she last saw our victim with. With this information, we were able to continue our investigation and ultimately arrest that individual for the homicide.”
Since acquiring the Crimestar RMS, OCSD has seen numerous benefits. Officers now may spend only a fraction of the time on certain cases. The Master Name Index is helping the department eliminate suspects much faster, which enables investigators to work more efficiently. There’s a movement afoot to obtain grant funding to try converting several law enforcement agencies in Oktibbeha County to the Crimestar software so all agencies can be linked together and exchange records more easily.
“As long as officers enter the information into Crimestar correctly,” says Watson, “our ability to utilize the information has gone through the roof.”